There was a time, not that long ago when it looked like AC Milan would never return to their former glory. The seven-time European Champions had fallen on hard times in the mid to late 2010, watching helplessly as they slid down the table year after year. After winning the 2010-2011 Scudetto, the Rossoneri started a precipitous decline, slipping to second place in 2012, third place in 2013, eighth place in 2014, tenth place in 2015—you get the picture.
While Milan was able to stick around the fifth to seventh range to close out the 2010s, it seemed like the once-mighty AC Milan had permanently lost their luster. But that's all changed over the past two seasons. Led by Stefano Pioli, Milan has been one of the hottest teams in the league over the past eighteen months, winning 81% of all possible points since the beginning of the 2020-2021 season.
Milan is currently locked in a tooth and nail fight with Napoli for the top of the Serie A table, so Roma will have their work cut out for them Sunday evening at the Stadio Olimpico. But there is hope, especially if one of these four names gets rolling early in tomorrow's match.
So far in our new Picks to Click series we've avoided the most obvious candidate: club captain Lorenzo Pellegrini. Now, that wasn't intentional or in any way an effort to make me look like the smartest person in the room by selecting a less-heralded candidate, the prior two matchups just featured safer bets. Not today. Today we're going with the chalk, as they say.
As Roma's leading goal-scorer and assist maker, it's high time we choose Pellegrini as a likely breakout candidate. But more to the point, he's simply on fire, scoring three goals and chipping in one assist in all competitions (club and country) during October. If Roma stands any chance of victory today, Pellegrini will be heavily involved.
Stephan El Shaarawy
We still don't know if SES will start against his former club, but with some late-week rumblings that he may replace Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the starting lineup today, El Shaarawy could be primed for a big night at the Stadio Olimpico. The now 29-year-old forward has been a streaky player during his Roma career, and he's currently knee-deep in a month-long scoring funk, so what better way to break that hex than against second-place AC Milan?
El Shaarawy's agility and aggression are always welcomed sights on the pitch, and if he gets to deploy those weapons from minute one, a victory may soon follow.
If you've been watching The Kid this season, you likely have noticed a pattern: He's eviscerating opponents in the open field, averaging nearly three dribbles per match, but he's been a bit careless (at times) with the ball in the final third and, to date, hasn't found the back of the net.
The turnovers aren't normally a concern but Zaniolo needs to do more than just dribble past opponents to compensate for them—Roma needs Zaniolo to become a consistent scoring threat. He's doing all the leg work—the dribbling, the pace, the aggression—he just needs to finish the job in the final third.
He'll face a tough task running at Rafael Leão and Ismael Bennacer, but it will only take one quick strike to get Zaniolo back on track.
After a saintly performance against Cagliari, we're throwing Rui Patricio right back on our list of potential MOTM candidates against AC Milan. With 23 goals scored through 10 matches, Milan are one of Italy's most potent clubs, so this particular pick to click is born out of necessity. Patricio will likely be called on multiple times today, so Roma will need every ounce of his anticipation, command, and experience to score an upset.
Those are today's four Picks to Click, tell us which one you think is most likely to break through or if we completely missed the mark. Check back in tomorrow's Sinners & Saints to see how we did!
Who is your Pick to Click against Milan?
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Stephan El Shaarawy